WORDS ON CASEY NEIL: "This band can muster some fearful energy in concert" - The Oregonian
Casey Neill & the Norway Rats fuse modern rock with punk, Americana, and Celtic styles. The Norway Rats are an assemblage of Portland's finest musos whose shows alternate between desolate ballads and raucous rave-ups (see individual bios below). With a raspy voice, well crafted songs and a crack band, Casey Neill has carved out a widespread fan-base throughout the US, Canada, Japan, and Britain . A new Casey Neill CD "Brooklyn Bridge" was released May 1st 2007 on the indie label In Music We Trust.
"These are songs with stories well told. This is what it's all about" --- STEVE EARLE
Casey cut his teeth in the underground music community of the Pacific Northwest. Maintaining an international touring and recording career, his songs have garnered widespread praise from radio and critics, as well as musical luminaries Jello Biafra, Amy Ray, Pete Seeger, and Steve Earle. Casey has played stages such as New York's Town Hall, San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, and Glasgows Celtic Connections Festival.
In 1995, Casey self released his CD Riffraff - 12 folk punk songs with a political focus. Based on the success of his debut, he was signed to the Appleseed imprint of Red House Records in 1997. A track of his was featured on their Grammy nominated tribute to Pete Seeger, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, alongside interpretations of Pete's songs by Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, and Ani DiFranco. Appleseed then released his self-titled CD in 1998, Skree in 1999, and a live CD Portland West in 2001.
In 2002, Casey moved to Brooklyn, NY and began working with full electric bands. The amped up approach was the urging of producer Johnny Cunningham who had heard the punkier tracks from Riffraff. Casey and Johnny began recording the new material in Providence, Rhode Island with help from Eric Ambel, Erin McKeown and others. Back in NYC, they assembled a band which performed regularly at the Fez Under Time and the Living Room developing the material. Sadly in December of 2003, Johnny Cunningham passed away.
A few of the tracks Johnny produced appeared on Casey's 2005 CD "Memory Against Forgetting" - a collection of archival songs released on the Daemon label. But the bulk of the material remained unreleased, while Casey and various collaborators spent the year touring and sharing stages with the Indigo Girls and British post punk heroes New Model Army. In 2006, Casey moved back to Oregon.
Back in Portland's thriving music world, Casey formed the Norway Rats with many longtime musical friends. He also joined a Pogues tribute act KMRIA which features past and present members of the Decemberists, Eels, the Minus 5 and others. The Portland based label In Music We Trust signed on to release Brooklyn Bridge in May 2007.
Brooklyn Bridge includes the sessions recorded by Johnny Cunningham and features over 25 musicians. The players include the New York incarnation of Casey's band, his acoustic Trio from the 90s, many of the current Norway Rats, and guests Chris Funk and Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists, songwriters John Wesley Harding and Erin McKeown, guitarist Eric Ambel of Steve Earle and the Dukes, and more. The result is a 12 song collection of anthemic rock, punk attitude, desolate ballads, and Poguesy punk roarers.
Casey Neill maintains a rigorous tour schedule with the Norway Rats as well as solo dates. Look for them on tour throughout this year.